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Southwest to sell off 717s.

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If you're looking for a deal on a well-maintained Boeing 717, you may be in luck. (www.aero-news.net) Mehr...

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kptnsky
mikey mikey 0
Selling off 717's a bad idea? I don't think so, and here's why:

Southwest's business model has proven that ONE aircraft type, with identical training requirements for all pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, etc. is most efficient. It's one of the things that keeps their overall overhead low and gives them the breathing room to serve otherwise-expensive airports.

If Southwest keeps the 717's, then their pilots, F/A's, mechanics, etc. will all have to be trained (and regularly re-trained), certified (and re-certified) for TWO mostly-unrelated aircraft types. Also, spares for two aircraft types have to be stocked at every medium-to-large airport Southwest serves.

Those requirements impose costs which will have to be borne by every Southwest customer.
rjudy175e
Richard Judy 0
Duh! WN has always been an all 737 fleet...what makes you think they will change now? I agree that it may be for the slots in ATL and wherever WN doesn't already have gates.
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
@ Richard Judy: Actually, Southwest has not always been an all 737 fleet. They've operated DC9s/MD80s previously, as well as leased 727-200s. The DC9s/MD80s came through an acquisition, but were phased out with the introduction of the 737-300/-500.
tyketto
Brad Littlejohn 0
Going to be pedantic here..

@Joshua Smith,

You're right; they used to ALWAYS avoid major airports, with 2 of them being the exception: SFO, and LAX. They flew to SFO in the late 90s/2000s before pulling out and moving across the bay to OAK. They kept PHX, LAX, and LAS because they were guaranteed the closest gates in proximity to the runway. If you notice at SFO, they have those.

They only expanded to some of the other cities because of buying/merging with other airlines. they gained LGA through the slots that ATA had; they gained EWR per ATA and terms of the UAL/COA merger. They bought TRS, so they got MKE and ATL. They smelled blood in DEN, when FFT and UAL were having issues. If those two weren't in any strife, they would have avoided DEN. Double that with IAD, in relation to UAL. Wash/rinse/repeat with PHL and PIT. USA was having issues, nearly went under, so SWA moved in. The only one that can't be explained is BOS. Only thing I can think of is to gain on the shuttles along the corridor.

Depending on where their gates are, they could still fit these in with their business model; frequency would be the problem. Keep in mind that while one of the 3 big things in their model was to avoid major airports, they still keep to the other 2: point-to-point service, and the 20-minute turnaround. If they can work it at those major airports, they may still keep it in line.
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
So you spend $1.4 billion for 52 737s and a handfull of new cities? I don't think we're getting the whole story. Keep in mind, airTran served 38 cities that Southwest didn't, at least 3 have had service discontinuance announced, with likely more to come. Gary Kelly would be a fool to spend that much money to throw away 88 perfectly useable airplanes (which would compliment Southwest's 737 fleet), many of the 38 cities not previously served by Southwest. Kelly has said previously that there is enourmous potential with the 717, why all of a sudden the 180? It's a great plane.

I've always thought that the 717s could be used out here on the West Coast to open new routes to smaller cities, or on routes that consistantly undersell a 737 but would fill a 717, freeing up the 737s for increased frequency on more lucrative and profitable markets between key business cities, since Gary Kelly claims that Southwest is trying to lure business travels. I'd deploy some of the 717s between the SF Area and the LA Area, New York and Boston, and New York and Atlanta, interstate Texas, Chicago and New York, and other short haul, high frequency markets, the other 717s would serve smaller cities from hub airports.

I don't like the way CEO Kelly is taking Southwest. It would not surprise me that one day, the success of Southwest comes to an end and they start experiencing trouble like the other legacy carriers (which Southwest is a part of, they're not a LCC anymore, and they can't be, because they've changed they once successful business model).

Its' definitely not how I'd run Southwest, that's for sure.
swaplt
Don't foget the 737 delivery orders from Airtrans.......those 85 or so slots pay back the buy cost.
Boatinman
Boatinman 0
Sooo..I ask you WN..Why buy Airtran if you're going to sell the planes and cancel flights to smaller markets? To enjoy some new slots in Atlanta?
zcolescott
Anyone who didn't see this coming is a fool. Like Richard said above, their business model has ALWAYS been based on a single type fleet. Why would they change that now?
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
Just like their business model USED to be to avoid large primary airports (SFO, BOS, LGA, ATL, MIA, JFK, EWR, ORD, DEN) like the plague. All of these experience significant delays and cancellations on a regular basis, which costs Southwest money and valuable time, and causes passengers inconvenience because of missed connections, etc. Looks like their business model has changed to include these delay-heavy airports. Maybe their fleet models have changed too.

After the merger was announced, Gary Kelly indicated that Southwest will, at some point in the future, need to operate multiple fleet types. Do some research Zachary.
BradSRQ
Brad Wilson 0
These planes would make an excellent "heavy" business jet for the right companies. The cost of purchase and retro would be less than that of a new jet. Another market for a handful of th planes is the professional sports market. The 717 reconfigured to all first-class is a great size for a basketball, hockey or baseball team.
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
Changing fleet business model: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2010/12/22/351254/southwest-doesnt-rule-out-fleet-type-expansion-beyond-the.html

Again, why would Southwest spend $1.4 billion to buy 52 737s and a handful of cities? Is Atlanta and a few slots at LGA really worth $1.4 billion?
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Southwest-Airlines/Boeing-727-227/0683825/L/&sid=18c68951992539d23e440a005480a5bd

For those who think Southwest has always operated only the 737, take a look at the picture in this link. Doesn't look like a 737 does it.
kgelbard
Ken Gelbard 0
Here in Baltimore they (Airtran and Southwest) competed on the BWI-BOS route. Now we see fares going up. I wonder how many other city pairs are seeing this
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
No I absolutely agree. SFO/OAK are my home airports. They've had a dominating presence at OAK for years. They pulled out of SFO 10 years ago because of the weather delays, opting to ramp up service at OAK/SJC, which while SFO is experiences significant delays, OAK/SJC are always delays less than 15 minutes, even in the worst winter storms or foggiest summer mornings/nights.

The LGA slots from ATA were purchased so WN could serve NYC directly, rather than Long Island (trying to lure business customers since LGA is right next to Manhattan, as is EWR). You're correct on EWR as well. They were in MKE prior to the FL merger. They added MSP as well. On the side, I think since they've taken on UA in DEN, they must think that DL is their next competitor.

They are even shifting away from point-to-point service as well, routing more and more traffic through traditional hubs like LAS, DEN, MDW, etc. While many flights are still point-to-point, there is an increase in connecting traffic.

I'm all for changing the business model. Business climates do change, and companies need to be able to make the necessary changes to remain viable and competitive. Since WN has been an industry leader for decades, it makes sense that they'd one day explore changes to their business models. I was simply bringing up to show the folks above who mentioned WNs business model that things change, and they're wrong.

The one thing that I can't understand, and perhaps this is a different subject, but once the FL/WN merger was announced, WN said the FL cabin layout will be dumped. Why? Why not explore having business class seats with laptop plugs? If you are trying to lure business travelers, it would make sense to offer them something above vacationers. For example, I buy at RT ticket for business meeting, I buy the Business Select ticket. It gives me nothing really in the end. If I am late to the gate for any reason, my seat that I would have got in the A group is long gone, so I paid 4x more for nothing. WN doesn't care, they got the extra money. I think that at least retaining FLs 52 737 in the current configuration and deploying them in strategic business markets on a trial basis would be worth exploring. If the customers like it, its a fleet wide addition possibly.

One has to scratch their head at some of the decisions that Gary Kelly has made since taking over Southwest Airlines.
BoeingFan59
Troy Raiteri 0
Hey at least they're sticking with the 737s which I love! :D
REC1114
WN's success is not accidental; the discipline to stick to their plans has been the foundation other airlines don't have. It's been reported that the maintenance cost of the 717 engines is higher than those of the 737.
dbrooks84
David Brooks 0
WN acquired MD-80s/DC9-50 when they acquired Muse airlines. WN leased four B727-200s for a short time from People Express back in the early 1980s (if my memory is correct).
sheka
mark tufts 0
if i had the money i would buy two of the 717's and use them for charters but with the 737's SWA is doing the smart thing by keeping them
doublex
doublex 0
Great headline. Southwest isn't "selling" them....when the leases expire, they're gone. We'll still see some of them for the next 12 years.
jhakunti
jhakunti 0
The 717s will cost more on maintenance, and to me it is a good decision by Kelly, to let the DC-95 go.

Keeping to the all 737 fleet is smart on WN's behalf because of it's original business model. Keep things simple with one fleet. Nobody should be surprised if WN dumps the DC-95 because it's in their every right to do so. WN will now be serving some Caribbean destinations, nothing that an all 737 fleet cannot do without the DC95. They already have 300s 500s and 700s. They will add 800s soon. Eventually, after they enter the Hawaii market, well after the merger is said and done, they will go into Europe, per Kelly, and will then look at what options they have for another type. Until they enter a market with a long route such as New England to Europe, they will not want a new type a/c simply because the Europe routes being operated with 757s and larger a/c are more competitive than what would be with a 737.
panam1971
panam1971 0
Heyy Southwest, fly to GRR; DELTA needs some competition!
hardworker7
hardworker7 0
Someone probably whispered in Kelly's ear that 717s would be worth far less down the road than 737s. I'm within 15mi of MDW and they are very quiet acft.
RR/BMW would do better to give SNECMA a run for their money and convince Boeing they are a viable alternative for a re-engined 737!
Raherron2000
Raymond Herron 0
I see a lot of people asking the question, is the deal with AirTran really a good deal, if they sell off the B717's. 100% YES. At 1.4 Billion Southwest could only aquire on average about 25 new B737's. The cost savings in fleet ex[ansion alone make this an awesome bargain. That combined with the revenues from the sale of the B717's is the icing on the cake.

As I do not work for Southwest, I speculate still that the slots and additional markets that they will gain from the acquisition will well outweigh the 1.4 billions cost. Slots at major airports are very hard to come by this day and age and the ability to purchase such arrival/departure times typically come at a huge premium to major airlines. That combined with Southwest's ability to market themselves in other various ways is a winning combination for everyone involved.

Charlotte, NC is a market that Southwest has never operated in and the airport is the primary hub for US Airways. Gate space at CDIA is maxed out until the airport expansion is completed. Southwest's emergence into such markets as Charlotte will offer direct competition to the major airlines and drive down the costs for the typical consumer and offer additional choices for point to point service.
jmedina94
Julian Medina 0
Think Hawaiian Airlines needs more?
chaka
Bryan Biggs 0
Let's not forget that the acquisition of Airtran also gains SWA access to the slot controlled DCA market. With SWA operating in DCA it reopened the slot swap negotiations at LGA and DCA between US Airways and Delta.
BoeingFan59
Troy Raiteri 0
Wait so will SWA park at AirTran gates right? So they're should be room if there's AirTran gates.
tyketto
Brad Littlejohn 0
I think they started the MSP service for 2 reasons.. they smelled blood from both tenants there: NWA going under, and SCX going back to chartered flights rather than scheduled.

DCA, eh? That would be an interesting one, as they wanted to avoid both there and IAD, in favour of BWI. they may keep IAD and DCA for the shuttle service through the corridor, while using BWI for their longer point-to-point routes.

As far as the B717s go, keep in mind that they still have a number of -300s to dump off while filling their orders of the -700, and -800s. With those, they may get them ETOPS compliant. This may give them a shot at AAH's old routes that they flew a -700 on, let alone the planned MMUN route.
iflyby
Sandy Gunther 0
IDIOTS. The 717 is a very versatile aircraft. Bad move IMO
HGreen
Herb Green 0
Air Tran basically came to BWI about 10 years ago right under Southwest's nose and has seemed to do pretty well. Canning the 717s and dropping the associated cities they serve, as well as a general dropping of some Air Tran cities, will mean there is a perfect opportunity at BWI for Jet Blue, Spirit, or somebody else to step in to provide that service here as well as at other airports. Dumb move by SW. What will SW do with the Air Tran Int'l/Caribbean service from BWI?
piedmont757
forrest alvarez 0
SNIFF....SNIFF..??? Does something smell funny??? I smell the same oder when American bought Reno-Air....With sooo much love and compassion!! Oops....Then they sold off their MD-90's and MD-87's. History always repeats itself.....
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, as one writer here has said, business will change and companies must change with it. With the Wright Amendment pretty much having gone away and what remaining restrictions going away shortly, look for more changes out of SWA. Had it not been for that Amendment, some of what is being done now may not have been. While basic business models may stay in place, destinations and/or operations may very well change in the future
Flyboy3245
Trent Smith 0
Right on right on southwest.
Flyboy3245
Trent Smith 0
Right on right on southwest. 1.4 billion is a small price to pay in the grand scheme of their plan. They have the capitol, why not make the long term investment? This frees them to more east coast options, Big space in Atlanta, and more fleet capacity. I think its a good move to drop the 717. Why break the business model that has worked for so many years? All the other airlines are floundering while SWA stays strong. Why? because they know what works, and introducing a new type of a/c into the fleet will just mess up a good thing. I think that this plan is ingenious and will pay for itself 10X over in the coming years. Not only is their marketing strategy one of the best I have ever seen, but the people that work for them are genuinely happy (well other than that homophobic pilot out of MDW) When your workers are happy they will continue to deliver a better product to the customer which makes the customer come back. All the legacy carriers should open up their notebooks and get back in class because at the end of the day SWA owns everybody hard.
piedmont757
forrest alvarez 0
Very true Trent; but loyal employees...or say " non union" employees kinda get screwed in the end of the merger process as I was QQ from 1995 with the merger with AA and your forced to join the " union" American is the "BORG" of airlines sooner or later we all will be assimilated into their .....or a One World....or Star Alliance...collective.
HGreen
Herb Green 0
The 737-300 airframes have not been shown to be very durable--skin cracks etc. Although the 717 reportedly does not have the best engines, if the airframe is anything like the other members of the DC-9 family (or other Douglas' for that matter) it's probably good for 40 years or more. A couple of 733's have ripped open at less than 50,000 hours, and less than 25 years old. Who knows whether the 737-700/800/NGs will be more durable than the -300s? With an exclusive 737 fleet you're putting all your eggs in one basket.
bucanero727
leonardo muniz 0
what a bad move!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
bucanero727
leonardo muniz 0
what a Bad move!!!!!!!!!!
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
The 737 has been a great airplane... The fuselage failures have been rare events, considering how many 737s have flown over the years and still fly. There are still quite a few -200 originals still flying. Along the same lines, there's still a bunch of 707s, DC8s, DC9s, 727s still flying... The only thing that makes these planes not very flyable now is the ridiculously expensive fuel. A lack of propery maintenance doesn't mean the aircraft was poorly built. These machines are meant to fly, and without time limits. True, they must be inspected, but there isn't anything that says a plane must be scrapped at 40,000 hours. I hope Boeing never replaces the 737 Family.
preacher1
preacher1 0
preacher1
preacher1 0
It must be noted that the fuselage falure in Arizona was ahead of Boeing's time frame and wasn't really a poor maintenance issue. That said, just cuz they'are getting a little old, you can't say SWA was wrong in using them. They are on top and you can't argue with success.
jetpilot8
jetpilot8 0
The 717 is too small for most WN city pairs. The airplane doesn't provide much growth capability either. They can comfortably cycle those 717s through the manufacturer and replace them with 73s. Sure, there's a cost to doing this, as there's a cost for keeping the 717s and having two fleets vs. one. Consider crew costs, parts inventory and ground equipment. It all comes out in the wash.
uvscwolf42
Joshua Smith 0
You already have 717 trained crews from Air Tran, no need to train Southwest Pilots on the 717, right? I might be wrong, not sure how pilot intregration works during a merger.
ACE1
GEORGE VOSCH 0
MAKES NO SENCE TO ME EATHER...
piedmont757
forrest alvarez 0
Southwest wants... to get into ATL. But you know AA tried to do BNA...failed...RDU...failed. DELTA owns the south. Way back when NW moved close in a hub at MEM?
piedmont757
forrest alvarez 0
True... With mergers shaves off alot of competition; but the LCC's Are always looking to move in and make a " QUICK BUCK" Watch out for Allegiant Airlines... Word on the street is HNL....and from Sanford Field in Orlando to SJU. Sometimes....its the " QUIET" Airlines...that sneak up and get you....

s
skinny2
Alan Ca 0
The part missed by most here is that the 717's are leased so WN didn't BUY those planes. They assumed the leases and I imagine will return them at lease-end or possibly negotiate early returns if they have ample supply of new 737's coming into the system. So they will continue to run 717's until they can get out of the leases. Very unlikely they will just dump the fleet in any short period of time.
JCCasebeer
John Casebeer 0
I was always ambivalent about the MD 80 series. The first time I rode in one the quietness was most impressive, even in coach. The 3/2 seating is weird but great for 2 people traveling together. I was very negatively impressed when the aft fuselage broke off 2 airplane during trials in Yuma. I don't think they will really be missed and they certainly never really seemed like a Boeing product.
JCCasebeer
John Casebeer 0
I was always ambivalent about the MD 80 series. The first time I rode in one the quietness was most impressive, even in coach. The 3/2 seating is weird but great for 2 people traveling together. I was very negatively impressed when the aft fuselage broke off 2 airplane during trials in Yuma. I don't think they will really be missed and they certainly never really seemed like a Boeing product. Is anyone on this site an MD 80 series pilot and can comment on the airplane from a pilot's view?
tyketto
Brad Littlejohn 0
@Forrest,

AAY is trying to pick up the market LAS-HNL market that ATA lost when it folded (funnily enough, bought by SWA). With AAH also gone, HAL is the only airline that has that market directly from LAS. Every other airline either makes a stop at SFO or LAX (and AAH had to stop at BUR or OAK). AAY isn't much of a threat, since a lot of their scheduled service is to airports SWA really doesn't see a market for their model in. RFI, FCL, and BLI really don't present a good market for SWA.

SWA could compete in that market if their 737s were ETOPs compliant, which they aren't, until they either get the -700s certified, or their -800s come certified. the -800s they'll be getting from TRS would be going to the MMUN runs.

As far as getting into ATL, for the longest time, SWA wanted nothing to do with ATL. If they wanted to they would have started some service near there, like SFO via OAK, or Miami via MCO. BHM, nor JAX are really close. It will be interesting to see how SWA fares here.
FedExCargoPilot
FedExCargoPilot 0
will SWA fly the Caribbean routes like air tran did? that would be pretty interesting!
bcolony
Bruce Colony 0
It'll 2017 before they start sellin them off. SW is not bailing out on the small market concept.
bcolony
Bruce Colony 0
SW isn't bailing on small markets. They will not start selling off 716s until the leases start to expire in a few years. By the time that starts to happen their plans to handle the small markets with 73s or smaller a/c will be fleshed out.
Dannoga
Dan Ciavardini 0
Hawaiian and Midwest will eat up some 717's, mayby even allegiant to upgrade their md83's

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